Out of Africa

There are few places more vibrant than African craft markets.  Here in the informal market sector, creativity is abundant and the spirit of entrepreneurship is thriving. 

Flea market

We were on holiday for a few days last week in Mpumalanga in the east of South Africa, and enjoyed the opportunity to browse through the markets at the various tourist attractions.

Beads galore

 Handcrafted Beadwork

Each stall is a riot of colourful handcrafted items produced by local African artisans.  The beadwork is amazing – detailed seed beads in all colours under the rainbow, woven into intricate geometric designs.

Beadwork Braclets

Ndebele Beadwork Bracelets

The stalls are run almost entirely by local women – each one a true small business owner.  You should have heard these ladies laugh when I told them I was going to put their picture on Facebook and that they would be famous!  And don’t think they don’t know how to negotiate….

South African Entrepreneurs at work

Entrepreneurs at work!

The variety of crafts on offer and the skills of the artisans involved are inspiring

 A colourful riot of beads

A Riot of Colour

And of course, we did walk away with a few bargains……



Black & Gold, Black & Gold, Black & Gold…..

Hands up who loves Pinterest!

I am a recent convert to Pinterest…… What a great concept, collecting beautiful photos to create mood boards that inspire you. Once you start, the options are endless – no matter what your interests are.

Baroque Fashion Trend Jewellery Handmade

Baroque Inspired Jewellery

I found it really inspiring with regard to my jewellery making. As I was looking through various fashion photos (some people have great “my style” boards) it reminded me of when I was in London back in September of this year. All the winter fashion was just coming into the shops.

Baroque Fashion Trend

Winter Trend – Baroque Inspired Fashion

Baroque Rocks!

The Baroque trend particularly appealed to me– all that black and gold, velvet, lace, brocade, ornate details, gilded motifs – rich, luxuriant, opulent. It almost made me wish for winter (here in South Africa it’s the height of summer!!). Visually it is stunning – you just want to look at and touch the beautiful materials.

Baroque Inspired Handcrafted Jewellery

Gold and Black Baroque Inspired Necklace

 Whilst I was looking at the pictures, I thought should be making some jewellery pieces that tie in with this trend…. so I put my iPad down, walked straight over to my beading station, aka the dining room table, and promptly starting working on Baroque influenced gemstone necklaces – centred on black and gold.

Baroque inspired handcrafted gemstone jewellery

Onyx, Pearl, Brass & Pyrite Bead Necklace

Black onyx, brass filigree beads, gold shell pearls, dark pewter metallic accents, rhinestone rondelles, black ribbon, brass Indian-style beads…… the pictures here are a sneak preview of the jewellery pieces I will be uploading into my Etsy shop after Christmas.

Baroque inspired handcrafted gemstone jewellery

Onyx, Brass & Rhinestone Rondelle Necklace

Wearing full on Baroque inspired clothing may not be for everyone, but why not incorporate a little into your wardrobe with a piece of jewellery that takes an elegant bow towards the trend. Accessories are such an easy way of updating your wardrobe, just add them to your basics and keep up with fashion without having to spend a fortune!

Check out my “Baroque Rocks” Pinterest board – do you think Baroque rocks??  http://pinterest.com/bigskiesjewel/baroque-rocks/ 


It’s the Weekend Baby!

Gemstone bead strings, jewellery making, gemstone jewellery, turquoise
New Stock
Another weekend has arrived– where is the time going?  Before you know it you’ll be making New Year’s Resolutions (and maybe breaking them!)…..have you thought of yours yet?
I have had a busy morning stocking up on lovely new beads for making more stunning gemstone jewellery this weekend.  Good job I had comfy shoes on – a 5 hr shop is not the faint hearted!  (It involved a McDonalds drive thru breakfast and a Wimpy cheese burger, so the pre-Christmas diet is not doing to well today either…)  A successful jewellery show was had this week, so I needed to re-stock – and now get busy beading!
Favourite stock item of the day:
Malachite beads, jewellery making, gemstones, jewelry
Malachite Oval Bead String
Aren’t these malachite beads awesome?  I couldn’t resist them – they look almost good enough to eat!
My second favourite purchase today are these unusual pyrite beads:
Pyrite beads, jewellery making, gemstones, beading
Pyrite Bead String

I can’t quite make up my mind what to combine them with – will have to play around and see what pops out at me.

Beading projects for the weekend include making up some more of my new “half-half” bracelets.  I am really enjoying colour blocking in my jewellery at the moment and these bracelets lend themselves to the trend beautifully.  Much of my jewellery is very simple in design as the gemstones speak for themselves – they take the starring role and they don’t always need a supporting act.  These bracelets are simple yet stunning. 
Turquoise and Tiger's Eye Bracelet, jewellery making, jewelry, gemstones
Turquoise and Tiger’s Eye “Half-Half” Bracelet
The combinations are endless – turquoise and tiger’s eye, cherry quartz and grey quartz, milky quartz and onyx, crackle fire agate and striped onyx, amethyst and malachite….and they look gorgeous stacked together.
Crackle Fire Agate and Striped Onyx Bracelet, jewelry, jewellery making, gemstnoes
Crackle Fire Agate and Striped Onyx “Half-Half” Bracelet
Along with stocking up on gemstones – onyx, tiger’s eye, turquoise, malachite, white howlite, agate, coral, amethyst – I also took delivery of my first sterling silver findings.  I would like to offer my jewellery buyers two options – a very affordable range using base metal findings and then a sterling silver range for those who are just plain fans of real silver or who are allergic to non-precious metals.  We’ll see how it goes – watch this space!

Let the Festivities Begin…

Christmas Cat

I have just launched the Coral Collection of handcrafted gemstone jewellery in my Etsy shop.  I was starting to feel festive and Christmassy after putting the Christmas tree up with the family after Sunday lunch last weekend, and this inspired me to create some new handcrafted jewellery pieces in bright Christmassy Red…..and it doesn’t get much redder than coral jewellery!


Red Coral and Silver Necklace
Red Coral and Silver Bali-style Bead Necklace

Did you know?

Only two types of coral can be used to create the red jewellery such as that in my Coral Collection.  These are: corallium rubrum and corallium japonicum, and they are found in the Mediterranean sea, off the coast of Australia, the South Pacific, and the waters of Japan and Africa.


Red Coral Bracelet
Red Coral Bracelet

Coral is found in white, red, black to blue, and brown – red is most definitely the most popular of these colours.

Red Coral and Silver Bali-style Bead Bracelet
Red Coral and Silver Bali-style Bead Bracelet

Coral has a similar chemical make-up to pearls.  Although it looks like a plant, it is the accummulated skeletal mass of living animals called polyps.  It can grow up to 40 cm tall with branches 4 cm thick – imagine the chunky jewellery I could make with that!!


Red Coral Disc Earrings

Coral is susceptible to bright light and is soft so care should be taken when coming into contact with chemicals such as soap and perfume.

Orange Sponge Coral, Cream Coral and Bronze Ceramic Bead Necklace
Orange Sponge Coral, Cream Coral and Bronze Ceramic Bead Necklace

Amongst its many meanings, coral is said to ward off evil spirits, prevent ill fortune, strengthen self esteem, and soothe fears.  It symbolises life and blood force energy.


Orange Sponge Coral and Crackle Fire Agate Necklace
Orange Sponge Coral and Crackle Fire Agate Necklace

I have always been fascinated with coral and its many forms- I have had coral trees as ornaments in my home, they are awesome just to sit and look at.  Nature really is amazing!

It’s a Wrap!

I thought I would share the results of my first forays into a new technique for me – wire wrapping.

Wire Wrapped Flint Arrowhead
Wire Wrapped Flint Arrowhead

This first item is a flint arrowhead that a colleague gave to me asking if I could turn it into a pendant.  I am happy to say that she is delighted with the results.

After the arrowhead I decided to try and wrap a couple of pairs of earrings using teardrop semi precious beads in turquoise and coral.

Coral Wire Wrapped Earrings
Coral Wire Wrapped Earrings

I have always really enjoyed the look of wire wrapped jewellery, but haven’t been brave enough to try.  I now cannot wait to try out some more projects.  I have a few stones without drilled holes that I can make pendants from.  One of the great things about jewellery making is the multitudes of techniques and styles to try out – it’s impossible to get bored!

Turquoise Wire Wrapped Earrings
Turquoise Wire Wrapped Earrings

Now I just need to get more wire…..off to the shops!

Bitter Sweet Symphony

Bitter Sweet Symphony by the Verve is my favourite song, of all time.  I like to listen to music whilst I am beading – I think it helps the creative process.   Music puts me in a happy place. If I am feeling down or frustrated with life (or the traffic!!), I put on my favourite play list – and after singing to a couple of my favourite tunes at the top of my voice, I suddenly don’t feel so bad!  It’s a fact that it impossible to be angry or cross whilst listening to something you love.   Music has the power to uplift.
Turquoise and Black Rhinestone Roundel Earrings
Turquoise and Black Rhinestone Roundel Earrings – sold in November on Etsy
I think the iPod is one of the best inventions of all time – I love my little orange iPod.    The joy of being able to make up play lists of all my favourite tunes, with such simplicity……bliss!!  I remember the frustrating days of my youth, trying to tape tunes from the radio or records (yes….records…. there was life before CDs). 
Turquoise Gemstone Necklace
Turquoise and Labradorite Necklace – sold in November on Etsy
This weekend was pretty hectic – too many social engagements and not enough time for beading!! Not that I am really complaining, it’s always lovely to see friends and family, and make some new friends along the way.   I wanted to take photos yesterday afternoon so I can upload my new pieces to Etsy, but it was raining and the light was really bad.  So instead of posting new pictures today I am sharing pictures of the items I have sold from my Etsy shop in November.
Agate Gemstone Necklace
Dragon’s Vein Agate Necklace – sold in November on Etsy
What I did have time to work on this weekend is what I am calling my “Coral Collection”.  I love coral – there is something special about the combination of brilliant red and silver – and it feels festively appropriate with Christmas coming up!  I did also incorporate subtler colour schemes into a couple of pieces by using orange sponge coral and natural cream coral instead of the red.  After I have uploaded my coral collection to my Etsy shop I already have another collection in mind – the Tribal Collection – earthy, natural, rustic pieces using beautiful gemstones.
Agate Gemstone Necklace
Agate Teardrop Slab Necklace – sold in November on Etsy
This weekend I also started to experiment with a new technique for me – wire wrapping.  After a couple of somewhat dodgy attempts I was rather pleased with my results.  This detour into wire wrapping was kick-started by me being given an arrowhead by one of my colleagues; she asked if I could please turn it into something she can enjoy more often by wearing as a necklace.  So I decided to give wire wrapping a go.  I think it is something I can get quite addicted to – it’s really fun creating your own shapes!  Hopefully tonight I can take some pictures of my new pieces to post next – may have to use artificial light though as it is still raining!


Turquoise Gemstone Bracelet
Turquoise and Indian Kashmiri Bead Bracelet – sold in November on Etsy

Please have a browse around my Etsy shop and if you like what you see then please “LIKE” my shop.  I am uploading new styles and pieces every week.   Also while you’re at it, it would be great if you could ‘LIKE’ my Facebook page too!! J